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if the mind did not 'attend to the mystick sense contained under them. Thus, in the Fables of Æsop, which are some of the most ancient allegories extant, the author gives reason and speech to beasts, insects, and plants; and by that means covertly instructs mankind in the most important incidents and concerns of their lives.
I am not insensible that the word Allegory has been sometimes used in a larger sense than that to which I may seem here to have restrained it, and has been applied indifferently to any poem which contains a covered moral, though the story or fable carries nothing in it that appears visionary or romantick. it may be necessary, therefore, to distinguish Allegory into the two following kinds :
The first is that which the story is framed of real or historical persons, and probable or possi. ble actions ; by which, however, some other persons and actions are typified or represented. In this sense the whole Æneis of Virgil may be said to be an Allegory, if we consider ;Æneas as representing Augustus Cæsar, and his conducting the remains of his countrymen from the ruins of Troy to a new settlement in Italy, as emblematical of Augustus's modelling a new government out of the ruins of the aristocracy, and establishing the Romans, after the confusion of the Civil war, in a peaceable and flourishing con.
dition. It does not, I think, appear that Homer had any such design in his poems, or that he meant to delineate his contemporaries or their actions under the chief characters and adventures of the Trojan war: and though the illusion I have mentioned in Virgil is a circumstance which the author has finely contrived to be coincident to the general frame of his story, yet he has avoided the making it plain and particular, and has thrown it off in so many instances from a direct application, that his poem is perfect without it. This, then, for distinction, should, I think, rather be called a Parallel than an Allegory ; at least in Allegories framed after this manner the literal sense is sufficient to satisfy the reader, though he should look no further ; and, without being considered as emblematical of some other persons or action, may of itself exhibit very useful morals and instructions. Thus the morals which may be drawn from the Æneis are equally noble and instructive, whether we suppose the real hero to be Æneas or Augustus Cæsar.
The second' kind of Allegory, and which, I think, may more properly challenge the name, * is that in which the fable or story consists for the most part of fictitious persons or beings, creatures of the poet's brain, and actions surprising, and without the bounds of probability or nature. In works of this kind it is impossible
for the reader to rest in the literal sense, but he is of vecessity driven to seek for another meaning, under these wild types and shadows,
This grotesque invention claims, as I have observed, a licence peculiar to itself, and is what I would be understood, in this discourse, more particularly to mean by the word Allegory. Thus Milton has described it in his poem called Il Penseroso, where he alludes to the Squire's Tale in Chaucer :
• Or call up him that left half-told
And who had Canace to wife,
On which the Tartar king did ride: • And if aught else great bards beside • In sage and solemn tunes have sung, • Of turneys, and of trophies hung, Of forests, and enchantments drear, Where more is meant than meets the ear.'
It may be proper to give an instance or two by which the distinction of this last kind of Allegory may more plainly appear.
The story of Circe, in the Odyssey, is an allegorical fable, of which there are perhaps more copies and imitations than of any other whatever. Her offering a cup, filled with intoxicating liquor, to her guests ; her minglipg
EN ALLEGORICAL POETRY.
poison with their food, and then by magical arts turning them into the shapes of swine; and Ulysses resisting her charms by the virtue of an herb called Moly, which he had received from the ged Mercury, and restoring his companions to their true. persons, are all fictions of the last kind I have mentioned. The person of the goddess is likewise fictitious, and out of the circle of the Grecian divinities; and the adventures are not to be understood but in a mystical
The episode of Calypso, though somewhat of the same kind, approaches nearer to nature and probability; but the story of Dido in the Æneis, though copied
from the Circe and Calypso, and formed on the same moral, namely, to represent a hero obstructed by the allurements of pleasure, and at last breaking from them, and, though Mercury likewise assists in it to dissolve the charm, yet is not necessarily to be looked upon as an allegory; the fable does not appear merely imaginary or emblematical; the persons are natural, and, excepting the distance of time, which the criticks have noted between the real Raeas and Dido, (a circumstance which Virgil, not being bound to historical truth, wilfully neglected,) there is nothing which might not really have happened. Ariosto's Alcina, and the Armida of Tasso, are copies from the same original: these again are plainly allegorical. The whole literal sense of the latter is a kind of vision, or a scene of imagination, and is every
where transparent, to show the moral sense which is under it. The Bower of Bliss, in the Second Book of the Faerie Queene, is, in like manner, a copy from Tasso; but the ornaments of description, which Spenser has transplanted out of the Italian poem, are more proper in his work, which was designed to be wholly allegorical, than in an epick poem, which is superiour in its nature to such lavish embellishments. There is another copy of the Circe, in the dramatick way, in a Mask, by our famous Milton, the whole plan of which is allogorical, and is written, with a
very poetical spirit, on the same moral, though with different characters.
I have here instanced in one of the most ancient and best imagined allegories extant. Scylla, Charybdis, and the Syrens, in the same poem, are of the same nature, and are creatures purely allegorical : but the Harpies in Virgil, which disturbed Æneas and his followers at their banquet, as they do not seem to exhibit any certain moral, may probably have been thrown in by the poet only as an omen, and to raise what is commonly called the Wonderfull, which is a property as essential to epick poetry as probability. Homer's giving * speech to the river Xanthus in the Iliad, and to
* Homer's giving speech to the river Xanthus, and to the horses of Achilles, &c.] Homer's giving speech to the horse, (not horses) of Achilles, is indeed a bold fiction; but his giving speech to the river Xanthus is not so, nor ought it to be reckoned more marvellous than his making Jupiter and Juno speak : for Xanthus was not the water, the river, but the god of the rivet, as Neptune is the god of the sea. JORTIN